IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

When killer kangaroos roamed the earth

Forget cute, cuddly marsupials. Australian paleontologists say they have found the fossilized remains of killer kangaroos and a "demon duck of doom."
The skull of an extinct giant, meat-eating kangaroo known as Ekaltadeta which lived 23 million to 29 million years ago is shown in a University of New South Wales undated handout photograph
Paleontologists say this skull came from an extinct giant, meat-eating kangaroo known as Ekaltadeta, which lived 23 million to 29 million years ago.University of New South Wales via Reuters
/ Source: Reuters

Forget cute, cuddly marsupials. Paleontologists say they have found the fossilized remains of a fanged killer kangaroo and what they describe as a "demon duck of doom."

A University of New South Wales team said the fearsome fossils were among 20 previously unknown species uncovered at a site in Australia's northwest Queensland state.

Professor Michael Archer said Wednesday that the remains of a meat-eating kangaroo with wolflike fangs were found, as well as a galloping kangaroo with long forearms that could not hop like a modern kangaroo.

"Because they didn't hop, these were galloping kangaroos, with big, powerful forelimbs. Some of them had long canines (fangs) like wolves," Archer told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Vertebrate paleontologist Sue Hand said modern kangaroos look almost nothing like their ferocious forebears, which lived between 10 million and 20 million years ago.

The species found at the dig had "well muscled-in teeth, not for grazing. These things had slicing crests that could have crunched through bone and sliced off flesh," Hand said.

The team also found prehistoric lungfish and large ducklike birds.

"Very big birds ... more like ducks, earned the name 'demon duck of doom', some at least may have been carnivorous as well," Hand told ABC radio.

Archer said the team was studying the fossils to better understand how they were affected by changing climates in the Miocene epoch between 5 million and 24 million years ago.